‘There was smoke everywhere’
The fire broke out around 8 AM at Niko’s Corner, a delivery and takeaway restaurant. As of now, no casualties have been reported and the cause of the fire has not been identified.
Surrounding apartments suffered considerable smoke damage, forcing some of the tenants to move out for an indefinite period, including a group of students who had to be evacuated.
Firefighters had the blazes under control in just under 30 minutes. They had to break the restaurant´s doors and windows to access the fire and release the accumulated smoke. Several scooters parked inside the restaurant and most of the cooking equipment were destroyed in the flames.
‘We woke up in the morning and heard the fire alarm go off. We thought it was just another random incident. But then we opened the door and there was smoke everywhere,’ says RUG student, Fenna. Fenna lives just above the restaurant. She and her flatmate started shouting to wake everyone up and let them know this was no false alarm. ‘Then we called the police, but they were already on their way. They told us to get out on the street, so we did.’
Early in the afternoon, some residents from neighbouring flats were already able to return to their homes. The students were not so lucky. Authorities declared their house uninhabitable due to great water and electricity damage. The walls got soaked with water and all utilities have been cut off. ‘But the worst thing is the smell,’ says Fenna, referring to the pungent odour of smoke that made it almost impossible to stay in the house even after the fire was put out.
No accommodation available
The students were told to leave the house as soon as possible. They have vacated the property and are unsure when they can return. ‘Now we have to stay with friends, and we don’t know for how long,’ says Fenna.
The building belongs to Wim de Vries, a major real estate owner in Groningen. ‘Mr. De Vries has no alternative accommodation available at the moment,’ explains a housing agent who manages the property.
Landlords usually offer their tenants a place to stay or a hotel room in case of fire damage. But this is not a legal obligation; property owners don’t have to provide alternative accommodation, not even if the property has become uninhabitable from the damages.
She came to inspect the damage at 1 in the afternoon, roughly 5 hours after the fire erupted. ‘It‘s the first time I‘m seeing this, so I don‘t know much,’ she says, before entering the blackened, smelly apartment.
The fire department of Groningen has announced that Stichting Salvage, a first-aid foundation supporting victims of fire, has been notified and will help handle the damages.